NICHOLAS BAER'S TRACKS VS. NORTHWESTERN:
17 minutes, 3-6 FG, 1-1 3PT, 1 rebound, 1 steal, 7 points
AND THE BAER-OMETER SAYS:
EURASIAN BROWN BAER
Baer had a typical Baer-ish game, nailing a three, grabbing a steal, and operating as the point man in Iowa's three-quarter court press, but there was one play midway through the second half that was demonstrated some unusual flair in the young man's game: a half-Euro step/half-jump step he used to score a layup midway through the second half. Baer caught the ball in the corner, and, when the Northwestern player closed out hard on him, took the ball to the rim, hop-stepping around a help defender at the last second to avoid a charge and ensure an easy layup:
The lineup Iowa was playing at that point — Clemmons, Christian Williams, Baer, Uthoff and Wagner — was not the most offensively gifted one, and Baer helped make something out of nothing with his clever footwork.
BAER ESSENTIAL PLAY OF THE NIGHT
In addition to that crafty play, Baer also had a play that demonstrated how he can be a tough cover for bigger players that find themselves switched onto him. After an offensive rebound late in the first half, Alex Olah had switched onto Baer on the perimeter. Not being the most fleet of foot, Olah took a step back inside the three-point line to contain a potential drive. Big mistake. Olah simply gave too much Baer-space to Nicholas, who jab stepped once, then calmly drained a three. Paw down, man down. There goes that Baer.
DOM UNG-UHL-ATE OF THE WEEK
Dom Uhl played a lot against Northwestern, and showed a bit of the promise and frustration that may lay in wait for Iowa when Uhl is called on to be a more primary offensive creator. He was super active, drawing ten foul shots and making a pest of himself around the basket, but he also missed four of those foul shots and got stripped a couple of times off the dribble. A lot of the pieces are there for Uhl to be a dominant player — unique size, length, speed, versatile defensive ability, a vastly improved three-point shot — but when he has the ball in his hand, he still hasn't put all those pieces together, kind of like the proverbial horse designed by a committee.*
* Which, to be fair, is a stupid thing to say about a camel. Camels are perfectly designed for what they need to do. So maybe Uhl is perfect for his role too, which means that maybe this whole segment doesn't make sense. Although ... Uhl could stand to improve his dribble and shooting form... which, honestly, most camels could, as well. So I guess the comparison stands.
AHMAD "WAGNER" OF THE NIGHT
Which Robert Wagner role did Ahmad most resemble yesterday? It could only be Alexander Mundy in the late sixties TV series It Takes A Thief. Wagner racked up three steals in 16 minutes Sunday, including one where he simply overpowered a Northwestern player and wrestled the ball out of the poor guy's hands like a sixth grader grabbing a kick ball from a kindergartner. Add the steals to 2-2 shooting from the field, 2-3 shooting from the line, and four rebounds, and it was probably Wagner's best day so far as a Hawkeye. Wagner has developed into another athletic piece that Iowa can throw at teams when they press*, and he is a handful.
* It really seems like Iowa's killing move these days is to put in their subs (along with Jok and/or Uthoff) and press. After playing 10-20 minutes of "normal" basketball against Iowa, teams wilt when they suddenly have to get the ball around the long arms of Jok, Baer, Wagner, et al., just to get into their offense. The game becomes faster and more ragged, fatigue starts to sap the focus of the opponent's defense, and suddenly Peter Jok is being left alone on the perimeter for open threes. It's a beautiful process to watch.
THE BAER FACTS
"Eurasian brown bears were used in Ancient Rome for fighting in arenas. The strongest bears apparently came from Caledonia and Dalmatia... In antiquity, the Eurasian brown bear was largely carnivorous, with 80% of its diet consisting of animal matter. However, as its habitat increasingly disappeared, meat consisted of only 40% of its dietary intake in the late Middle Ages, till modern times where meat now amounts to little more than 10-15% of its diet. Whenever possible the brown bear will consume sheep." [Source: Wikipedia]